Every two weeks as part of our staff meetings, we spend time in devotions. Devotion time is structured around reading and discussing a book together. We try to find books that combine Christianity and education. It allows us to have professional conversations on Christian teaching. This year, we are reading David I. Smith book called, “On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom.” The author challenges us to remember all aspects of teaching and the classroom when we consider what is Christian education. For many, Christian education means either the content that is taught or the acts of piety, such as prayer or Bible readings, that are done or a combination of these two things.
In our reading this week, David Smith reminds us that “Teaching is not just made up of talking, but of gesture, volume, tone of voice, eye contact, position, posture, lighting, seating layouts, proximity between people, images, symbols, pace, rhythm, silence, sequence, and so on.” If we are to engage in Christian teaching, a teacher must consider how all of these things shape learning. Are there structures or practices in place that hinder or hurt the message of Christ and faith? For example, what would a Bible lesson filled with Christian content, but delivered in monotone mean? The teacher’s lack of enthusiasm would be the real lesson that is taught, which is Bible is boring. Can a Christian teacher rely heavily upon sarcasm? If Sabbath is important, how does that impact homework practices or test schedules? If Christian community is important, what does it mean to be always sitting in rows or only working within my class like we are doing this year? Does the lack of time to answer questions, mean that we do not value those who need time to think or process, or that it is not important to think? What does it mean if there are no opportunities to worship during a lesson? What does worship look like in a math, French, or grammar lesson? These can be challenging questions. I am thankful that we have a community of Christian teachers that are actively engaged in answering these types of questions and who continually seek ways to improve upon holistic Christian education practices.